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9 Nintendo Video Games That Make Me a Better Leader

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I am child of the 80’s which means two things.

  • I am a fan of professional wrestling.
  • I played my Nintendo every day.
    image credit: nesaddicts.com

Yes, I still play video games, just not as much, but on the days I play them, I do yearn for my 8-bit NES.  Looking back, there are some quotes and images from some of my favorite games that have made me a better teacher, administrator, and superintendent.  Here are nine of my favorites:

1) The Legend of Zelda was a staple in all households with a NES.  One of the first actions in the game was to get the sword.  No, I am not advocating for  weaponry in schools, but it is indeed dangerous to go alone in education.  If you do so today, you’re foolish.  We have a zillion tools that connect us.  Why not talk to others in your position?  Why not connect, grow, and put yourself in a better position?

2)The end of Predator for NES was a simple one; it’s the screen above.  This reminds me of my first year as a teacher, vice-principal, supervisor, and definitely superintendent.  Getting through your first year of anything is tough.  Celebrate the small things – like surviving!

3) I always had a good laugh when I saw this when playing The Adventures of Link. The character was named Error.  I always thought about this game when I made a mistake.  It’s very important to realize that it’s okay to make mistakes.  I have been “Error” many a time and I will be in the future, too.  It’s how I learn; it’s how we all learn.


 4) Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure was a goofy movie but was also an awful NES game.  This screenshot above was the end of the game, and the message is simple: be good people!  I preach this wherever I go.  You don’t need scads of degrees or massive experience to be a good person.  Being a good person allows you to go very far in life.

5) Double Dragon was a fun fighting game, but the story line was odd.  This slide says much, though.  Making yourself the focal point will get you very far in your own mind, but in the rest of the world…not so much.  While we grew up in that everyone-gets-a-trophy-and-certificate cycle, being all about yourself is simply embarrassing.  Real leaders and educators empower those around them and lift them up.  When you focus on learners, learning takes place.  Period.

6) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was everywhere and anywhere when I was growing up.  At the end of the TMNT NES game, Splinter (a rat if you can’t recall) morphed back into a human and said the above at the end of the game.  I often think about how everyone around me has “excelled” my skills.  Thanks to so many social media platforms, we are connected at the snap of a finger.  Even more important, jobs which were typically isolating, like superintendents, are now connected more than ever.  Those connections have excelled my skills!

7) Metroid was fantastic, but the message above tells much more.  For the longest time, I took everything so seriously.  Why?  Yes, education is a serious job, but we certainly can relax just as everyone else can.  There are times when you return to base immediately, but there are times where your family and “me time” come first.

8) Super Mario Brothers is one of the best games ever created.  What kept you going?  The message above.  I actually have this hanging in my office.  Why?   Because there is always something that can be done.  It keeps you going.  There’s always something to work on. The princess is always in another castle!

9) NES Pro Wrestling was a fantastic game–awful graphics, awful wrestling moves, awful everything, but, when you beat the game, you received the message above. So silly, but it always felt good.  It was a sense of accomplishment!  It’s a message that everyone wants to be.  It’s not always about winning; it’s about getting to the goal.  I set meaningful, achievable goals just about every day.  I don’t care about the winning.  I care about reaching the goal so that we all can succeed.

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Jay Eitner is a proud product of the New Jersey public schools. A graduate from Union High School in 1997, Jay attended The American University in Washington DC with a BA in interdisciplinary studies. He began his teaching career in Roselle, NJ teaching a variety of subjects including social studies, computers, and digital literacy. Known for being ‘outside of the box’ and for strong technology infusion, Eitner strived to make a learning environment that was student-centered, data-driven, and technology infused. Jay received his Master's Degree from Kean University in 2004 and was hired to teach 8th-grade social studies in the nationally recognized East Brunswick Public Schools. During his time in East Brunswick, Eitner has written & received over $140,000 in grants for his students. Grants ranged from podcasting equipment to creating a fully-interactive gold-rush experience, where students dug for gold during their westward expansion unit. Jay obtained his supervisor, principal, and school administrator certificates from the NJPSA NJ-EXCEL program in 2009. Administratively, Eitner has served as a middle school Assistant Principal in the Washington Township Schools, a K-12 Supervisor of Social Studies in the Hopewell Valley Regional School District, and a Superintendent of the Lower Alloways Creek School District. Jay currently serves as a Superintendent of Schools for the Waterford Township School District. He has presented a series of workshops on digital leadership, technology infusion, and student achievement. Recent awards include the 2015 national Educators Voice Award in the category of Superintendent, the White House MakerSpace distinction, and named to the National Academy of Arts & Sciences as a 2016 Educator To Watch.

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Guest Sunday, 19 May 2019